RISING ABOVE CIRCUMSTANCES

Scripture Reading:  Acts 16:16-25

“The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods.  And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely.”  (Acts 16:22,23)

Paul and Silas were in Philippi where they encountered a slave girl who was possessed by an evil spirit.  This spirit enabled her to predict the future, which means that she was a fortune teller.  She was being exploited by her owners (v. 16).  Paul delivered the girl for this evil spirit by commanding the demon to come out of her in the name of Jesus (v. 18).  The girl’s masters were furious and brought charges against Paul and Silas (vs. 19-21).  Paul and Silas were arrested, flogged and thrown into prison.  Can you imagine how they must have felt?  They were faithfully ministering to the people in the name of Jesus and God used them to deliver the slave girl from an evil spirit.  And what did they get? A beating and prison!

But Paul and Silas were able to rise above the circumstances:  “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (v. 25).  The missionaries were not distraught, nor bitter, nor overwhelmed.  Instead they began to worship God.  They lifted their eyes to God and began singing praise to Him.  They were able to see things from God’s perspective.  Paul later wrote these words to the Thessalonians:  “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).

Andrew Murray wrote his “Four Anchors” when facing trials and difficult circumstances.  “First, I say He brought me here. It is by His will I am in the strait place and in that fact I will rest.  Second, He will keep me here in His love and give me grace to behave as His child.  Third, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn.  Fourth, in His good time, He can bring me out again — how and when He knows.  So let me say, I am:  here by God’s appointment, in His keeping, under His training, and for His time.”  You lay those four anchors alongside your circumstances and you will be able to praise the Lord in the midst of them.

Lord God, I am here by Your appointment, in Your keeping, under Your training, for Your time.  Because of these things, I desire to worship You.  I know that I am safe and secure in Your arms.  And I know that You are God, that You are good, and that You know what is best for Your people.

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